Design and manufacturing space flight vehicle structures is a skillset that has grown considerably at NASA during that last several years. Beginning with the Ares program and followed by the Space Launch System (SLS); in-house designs were produced for both the Upper Stage and the SLS Multipurpose crew vehicle (MPCV) spacecraft adapter. Specifically, critical design review (CDR) level analysis and flight production drawing were produced for the above mentioned hardware. In particular, the experience of this in-house design work led to increased manufacturing infrastructure for both Marshal Space Flight Center (MSFC) and Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF), improved skillsets in both analysis and design, and hands on experience in building and testing (MSA) full scale hardware. The hardware design and development processes from initiation to CDR and finally flight; resulted in many challenges and experiences that produced valuable lessons. This paper builds on these experiences of NASA in recent years on designing and fabricating flight hardware and examines the design/development processes used, as well as the challenges and lessons learned, i.e. from the initial design, loads estimation and mass constraints to structural optimization/affordability to release of production drawing to hardware manufacturing. While there are many documented design processes which a design engineer can follow, these unique experiences can offer insight into designing hardware in current program environments and present solutions to many of the challenges experienced by the engineering team.